Picking Your Story

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One of the best definitions of what a writer does is to extract narrative from random events.  Okay, I guess that applies mostly to non-fiction writers.

Say you set out to write the biography of one of the English fighters in the peninsula during the Napoleonic invasions.  You’ll find there’s not one narrative but at least four or five.  And I don’t mean just that this guy looks completely different in his auto-biography, his mentions in his superiors’ biographies, or his friends memories of their parties.  It goes far beyond that.

You could extract the moments of his soujourn in the peninsula to craft a “homeland and heroism” story, by picking all the highs and moments of valor, and how he wanted to rout Napoleon for England and glory. It would be a true account, as he really was a patriotic young man who wanted to serve.

Or if you had an anti-war bend, you could choose every one of the incidents in which he saw what we call “the horror of war” and show him becoming jaded and depressed.  Look, even if he in general was suited to a military career and thought the cause just, he’d have moments of discouragement.  Everyone does, and war really is a horrible business.  Also if he joined at 17 or so, as many did, he couldn’t’ help but become at least somewhat jaded. By showing/lending prominence to this, an anti-war writer will craft the narrative no one should serve.

Or you could string together all the times he got drunk and went rabbit hunting, and had a contretemps with a local woman of uneasy virtue, and craft a tragi-comic narrative.

Well, it’s not just in books, you know? And not just writers.  Life is chaotic.  It has been said that the human brain is a machine for extracting meaning from chaos.

Hell, some people think that we — our minds — create time as a sequence, and that it has no existence outside our heads.  (I have issues with this.  Though it might be true, there where physics becomes theology.)

Just like the young officer in the Napoleonic wars, your life, your every day has many meanings, and you can pick and choose to craft a narrative.  In fact, you do, instinctively.

Now–

This is where it’s important to write and craft stories.  Humans are social apes.  That means, to quote my grandmother “we don’t make ourselves.”  Okay, I think she meant something more religious.  But she was right in a more mundane sense, too.

Humans often aren’t even aware of crafting their narrative, or shaping their view of the world.  Heck, most of us writers aren’t either.  Not in our real, actual, personal life.  Instead we fasten onto stories which are complete and coherent narratives, as a way to figure out who we are, where we are and where we are going, and to try to plot our path to a happy future.

Jane Austen with her incredibly practical view of marriage did more to reconcile me to physical existence and the realities of life than any number of “feminist” writers.

And that’s part of the problem too.  When some stories — say the fairy tales with the happy ever after save when they threw the furniture at each other endings — are condemned by damnatio memory and people are told they can no longer use them to shape themselves, you craft anti-narratives.  And these never have a happy ending.

I understand idiots — really — are complaining about Incredibles 2 and saying that Mrs. Incredible should divorce her husband.  That’s the anti-narrative at work.  The women don’t need men, the no woman is totally happy in marriage.

Now I’m not going to say women should only or primarily look for happiness in marriage. And I don’t think you should look for a perfect prince/princess, someone who will make you happy without questions.  If you’re going to dip into legends and fairytales, go for the older more realistic ones, not Disney.  The woman still had to do something brave, to go exploring, to perform tasks, before she was ready to be married.  And married couples sometimes threw furniture at each other…

I’m saying be aware of the narrative in your head and how it’s influencing you.  Because it’s possible to be trapped in a narrative that not only doesn’t suit you, but makes you miserable.

I’ve seen women rant and rave about how happy they are since the divorce, when it’s obvious they’re telling everyone this, and destroying any and all possible chance of happiness.  I’ve seen men tell me how much they love their job and they don’t have time for family or friends, and yet their eyes are miserable.

They’re trapped in narratives where what they sold themselves as happiness and joy isn’t, but they can’t find their way out because they bought their own narrative, and can’t see it’s killing them.

In the same way, if men buy into the tales that men are inherently violent/war like/awful while women are perfect, they go through life with a huge chip on their shoulder, being passive aggressive, alternating grovelling with posturing.  It’s not great for women to believe that either, btw, because no human being is perfect, and while women are far less likely to bash your skull in, they’re far more likely to poison your chocolate.

More importantly, if you believe the lies you were told in school, about the overpopulated world, depleted resources, everyone is a killer ape and a horrible person, there is no joy or glory anywhere, and “nothing to live or die for”, you’re going to live in a dark world with no future and no hope.  And it isn’t even true.

I don’t know if there were humans before story.  Maybe at the beginning there were tiny, tiny stories: “Gorg wans to be like Ogg and be leader of band.”  Or “If Mog makes basket and catches fish Gorg will notice her, and they’ll have many babies.”

What I do know is that anything, even at the level of semi-competent tribal existence has a story.

Those sagas told over millennia provided role models.  Are you Odysseus the quick, always with a stratagem?  Faithful Penelope?  Circe who lures men and has the power of making them animals? Are you Telemachus searching for his dad?

There were roles in those stories, things that went to the back of the brain and gave people ways to react to things that would otherwise destroy them, and ways of behaving that were if no constructive congruent with their society and the lives they could live.

Beware of stories.  Beware of those that can trap you and suck you dry, like a spider catching an insect in a web.

If you can, pick a narrative with a future, one that allows you to build and be happy.  In my experience the happiest people have something to live for: a spouse, a lover, a child, a garden, a house, a cause, an institution. (Just make sure the cause is not one that promotes misery.)  Humans were built to work.  To build. To expand. To create.

Make yourself a narrative that allows for that.  And then build and live and, yes, if you can, write stories of building and living, so that others might live and build.

212 responses to “Picking Your Story

  1. I’ve seen women rant and rave about how happy they are since the divorce, when it’s obvious they’re telling everyone this, and destroying any and all possible chance of happiness.

    The question you have to ask yourself in situations like this, is “who are they trying to convince?”

    • Themselves, clearly, twib.

      • The sad ones are those saying “the kids made it worth it” and are obviously lying just as much.

        • But my kids DID make everything worth it. Not meaning there’s nothing else, but….

          • But you know there’s going to be a next generation. And hopefully a generation beyond that.

            People who prattle on about the joys of childlessness are all under 40.

    • What I say when someone tells me this: “Oh, really? That’s great!”

      What I’m thinking: “You’re lying. I know you’re lying, you know you’re lying, my cousin who’s only met you twice knows you’re lying, that guy over at the next table who doesn’t know either of us and only heard half the conversation knows you’re lying. However, until you’re willing to admit to yourself that you’re lying, there’s no point in me saying so. Thus, I’ll say nice, non-committal phrases until you’re ready, at which point I’ll be your friend here to help you.”

    • The only ones I’ll believe that from are the ones who got out of very abusive relationships… after a while, of recovering, and healing.

      I won’t buy that from people who came from visibly stable relationships, then got ‘bored’ and ‘went to find themselves / sleep around’ divorced and ‘are looking for better’.

      • Or are looking for perfect. I’ve seen that more than a couple of times. People who start to obsess over the little things – or at least what seems little from the outside, of course there is always the chance that actually there is something big but she just can’t talk about it, so she complains about the fact that he never does this or that or at least doesn’t unless she reminds him – and just let the whole thing escalate until there is no going back.

        • I never looked for perfect. That’s insane, and unfair on the other person, when I’m not perfect. I looked for “Compatible with me, we’re happy together, we have fairly similar life goals (grow old together, and have a few fruit trees) and has flaws I can live with.” For example, I would not have been able to live with someone who didn’t like physical affection; it might seem small, but I’m a touchy-feely sort; and someone who doesn’t like at least SOME hugs and gets angry at the slightest pat… well.

          This was something I warned the Housemate about too – I’m probably going to at least hug him a few times when I get really emotional! He said that was fine; he didn’t mind that, but he wasn’t good about giving ’em out. Some years on, he’ll give hugs at perfectly appropriate times and reasons – he’s proud of something Vincent did or said, or affectionately teasing me to get me out of a mood -hug and laugh when I break out of grumpy and am fighting to not smile – and such. Vincent being a huggy little boy – he likes to give a hug to everyone before going to bed – probably helped.

        • Related are the women who buy into the narrative that they’re entitled to “it all”, and that if that’s withheld from her, it’s the fault of men in general, and the one closest to her in particular.

          • and can’t understand why the kids aren’t getting enough care and attention, and they don’t seem to have enough time to spend on their career

          • I’ve known a couple where the woman wasn’t having her emotional needs met so she left him… when she was primary care for a toddler.

            Clue: It’s not your *spouse*… it’s the fact that you have been chronically sleep deprived (as has your spouse) and have the emotional capacity of a wet noodle.

          • NOBODY gets to “have it all”. Not men, not women, not anyone on this Earth. Everything comes at a cost. The decision to take one path closes off other potential directions of life.

  2. There is storytelling required in everyday life, and what stories you tell yourself and others matters quite a bit.

    When I started out in the corporate world, my boss was nonplussed when I told him I was not there working for the work, dedicated to the job – I was working so I could do other stuff (you know, eat, afford clothes, pay for flying lessons, etc.). My point was, it was useless for him to try and motivate me by selling me on the inherent nobility and honor of cubical-land, or the glorious goals of the corporate culture, as there was no place for anything other than mercenary effort/recompense and the individual challenge of mastering new skills in the story I was telling myself.

    Much later I was always careful to try and figure out what the stories my reports were telling themselves so I could effectively manipulate them into doing what I wanted (ah, management). And, of course, I adjusted the story I told myself to make that happen within the bounds I set as honorable.

    But it’s all turtles telling stories, all the way down.

    • That was the fantastic thing to me about ‘temping’ after retiring from the military. It was not demanded of me that I pledge allegiance to the company, that I be in line enthusiastically for whatever goals, or mission the company had. When I temped, I merely rented my time and expertise. No forced enthusiasm for the current company I was assigned to.
      At the time, I likened it to whoring, after getting out of an unsatisfactory marriage. Do the job for the client to their satisfaction, take the money and go away. No demonstrations of total allegiance required. It was rather restful, for me.

      • Restful, maybe…but I can also see where it would not satisfy the soul.

        • Feather Blade

          Ont he other hand, “It pays the bills” is satisfying in and of itself, and doesn’t trap you into feeling like your life is meaningless when you lose that job (as you inevitably will).

          • This is true. I’m eligible to retire right now, and it’s a fight between wanting to take the time off, turn my coat and take up a post-retirement job (which could be VERY lucrative), and my ego (currently housed in a hangar, a house isn’t big enough).

        • “satisfying to the soul”? The only thing about what I do for a living that might be “satisfying to the soul” is finding a nice, elegant solution to a particular problem (I do rapid application development). Whether I give a rat’s ass about the company or not doesn’t factor in at all. It’s me, data in, solution, data out. I could do the same thing anywhere, and the only effect the employing company would have on my soul is if I was working for something evil… say, the DNC, and that would make my soul has a sad. SO, I don’t go work for evil companies.

          Generally, I would rather satisfy my soul with my hobbies… mostly, sucking at Guitar, and sucking at writing (it’s ok to suck at stuff if you love it… Improvement is very satisfying)

          • /*“satisfying to the soul”? The only thing about what I do for a living that might be “satisfying to the soul” is finding a nice, elegant solution to a particular problem (I do rapid application development). Whether I give a rat’s ass about the company or not doesn’t factor in at all. It’s me, data in, solution, data out.*/

            Ditto.

            Although, did get asked once during a particularly horrible office interaction (not me, I just shut the door), how I could stay. My answer at that time was “two weeks notice.” I could quit work at anytime & not have to find work. Did end up finally saying. “Okay. Not particularly safe. I’m done.”

        • I have worked as a freelancer since 2002. I currently have five active clients. It satisfies my soul to turn a manuscript into a better written manuscript, or to have an author thank me for my work in the Acknowledgments, or to be told that a client is happy with my work. It pleased me to have my editor at Steve Jackson Games tell me, “You’re a professional, I don’t need to explain this.”

          When I was a corporate employee, I liked doing the work and getting paid, but there was also a certain amount of corporate BS. I remember the corporate mission statement that said that our mission was to do whatever the corporation thought would make money: No commitment to any specific type of work or kind of product. Now that was soul-draining.

        • I didn’t look to temping to satisfying my soul – I had blogging, writing, and being able to have a house and garden that I owned, to provide that satisfaction.

          • Yep, that was the point I was trying to make to my boss – this is Just A Job, don’t ask me for Emotional Commitment or Work All Weekend Sacrifice For The Corporate Goals or anything along those lines. I have other stuff in my life to satisfy other needs, so as far as he was concerned, he should note I was not looking at my work to do anything other than “get paid”.

            • I’ve known several people whose entire *self* was wrapped in in their job. After finally realizing they weren’t pulling my leg, I now understand why “losing a job” is considered a suicide indicator…

              • Some jobs, there isn’t an option. Rancher and farmer come to mind, and stuff like military– some government jobs that require you build your life around it and that it be something you love.

                I’m worried about my folks, given the ranching-is-a-lifestyle thing….

                • Well, being a logistics guy in a bunch of tents in Eastwestistan far away from everything entails a different degree of commitment than that of the SOF Operator mountain-climbing-while-heavily-armed-for-a-very-good-reason or the Naval Aviator trying to get a trap back on the boat in pitch dark with the deck heaving and yawing and rolling and pitching in sea-state-ohmygosh, but all of them are away from home and hearth and loved ones on my behalf, which is quite different indeed from the cubicals of Dilbert-land.

                  Expecting the commitment of the former in the environment of cubical-land is just a joke.

                  • A nasty one– ever notice that the commitment is always supposed to be one way, to the person demanding it?

                    • Heh. Working where I do, I’m (thankfully) far away from most of the worst B.S. that happens in corporations with that attitude; here the commitment is two-way. Not the same way as feudalism; we’re far more equals here, with some people being, essentially, team leaders because someone has to make the decisions and it’s far better for that to be one person than a committee. But feudalism is better than those one-way commitments that some companies demand: feudalism at least recognized obligations from the lord to his vassals, even if those obligations were too often honored in the breach.

                    • Terry Sanders

                      I’ve always suspected that was one reason Japanese companies do as well as they do. For all the weirdnesses I’ve heard about, many of said weirdnesses do reflect on the two-way nature of the setup. Zaibatsu do seem to regard their employees more as feudal retainers than as interchangeable widgets. Kaizen only works if the employee has a reason to care what happens to “his” company.

                    • There is a degree of desire for Zaibatsu, for belonging and being valued in an organization, in my own makeup. It’s been thoroughly shattered and the fragments stomped into the dust by the boom-bust-layoff cycle of Silicon Valley, but at one point I could have happily stayed with a company for my entire career. But that is not something that happens here.

                      I recall looking on with disdain at the people who jumped ship for pay increases and then jumped back in for more pay increases, thinking they were damaging their brand within the organization. But when layoffs came around they were not the first let go – the long-timers were.

                      If a hypothetical Silicon Valley Zaibatsu system was, in fact, two way, with loyalty running downhill as well as up, the industry would be very different. But here there is no loyalty running downhill. The sooner a new grad working in this industry learns they are utterly and completely an independent mercenary agent, with no loyalty not continuously paid for in gold, the better.

                    • Meanwhile, I’ve seen folks who got loyalty and support from their employers– dump it. Because there wasn’t anything actually forcing them to stay.

                      It sucks.

              • In part, since everything is fractured, for a lot of people, work is the only thing they can have.

                The social climate makes interaction with others painful and dangerous so those at risk withdraw. A job may be the only reason they have to wake up in the morning. You see a future of a boot standing on your throat, and those of any progeny you curse to live here. You have no hobbies because you get driven out of them or they get taken away.

              • Yes. Pretty much any professional has a substantial amount of his self-image and self-definition wrapped in his job.

            • “I’m only motivated by what you pay me, so if you like me as an employee better pay me well?” 🙂

              Heh. Well, I’m not in a position where I could say that, what I do pay what they pay and the only way to get something better would be to find a new job or jobs but unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of choices for somebody my age and my experience so I stay in the ones I have at least I like both jobs a bit better than what other things I have been doing in my life (don’t have to work with anybody or see the customers, which suits me quite well…). But it would be pretty satisfying if I could.

  3. One way to avoid getting stuck in a story is to avoid details– so, on a road trip, I’ll figure out roughly how we’ll get there, figure out how much time including the wiggle room, but I won’t say “and we will get to City B at 4:30 and stay there” or similar. Because that level of detail requires A, B and C to happen– and if they don’t, I get cranky.

    The story is screwed up.

    This happens with life-stories, too– the gals who are unhappy because they should be, and the gals who did Everything Right but it didn’t work out because dude was a scumbag, or it’s simply not physically possible to be an executive who works 20 hours a day AND have one girl, one boy, both perfect and adored.

    • Planning a road trip? Reminds me of my older brother.

      For me, usually the most planning I have made in advance is start here, end there (and that’s sometimes optional). I might glance at a map so I have general guidelines of “maybe use that highway, then maybe that highway”, but those are taken as suggestions. Getting lost is part of the fun!

      • My mother would have a freaking heart attack– and we’re usually doing something like “going to the family reunion,” so arriving in a set place, at a set time, is required.

        It is very annoying that the same people flipping out, bar my husband, are the ones whose idea of planning a trip consists of “we’re leaving today, we’ll be there about four the night before the reunion.” And their idea of “contact’ is “but I sent you my plan!”

        • I’m more with Fox on trip planning. Call it a holdover from my military career where you had to coordinate movement and shipping for precise rendezvous and time to destination/target. Of course we were dealing with dozens to hundreds of pieces all going in different directions, different speeds, and different media for transport; not just a lone person off skylarking around.

          • You have to do a bit of both. I prefer precisely planned travel as far as getting there and home again. What I do at the destination is often up for grabs.

            • I plan such things – but with a decision tree. Actually, more like a PERT chart, because they are branches that merge again with the main time plan. Lunch is unexpectedly slow? Activity X gets skipped, or moved to the trip back. Ahead of schedule, because traffic is strangely light, and I managed the speed limit the entire way so far? Activity Y that was “pending” gets added.

          • *chuckles* A lone dude would probably be different, too– I did maybe three as a lone chick, and I’ve done about a dozen as mom-with-kids, and at least that many as a family.

            I can excuse the worrying, but it still gets annoying.

            • *chuckle* Last huge move, the kids got an extended stay with the grandparents, and we packed up the house. This allowed us to have the car packed to the brim with the more delicate and fragile items that we were unwilling to entrust to the moving company, and we roadtripped to the new assigned location, and then Rhys went to fetch the kiddies.

          • I think I thought of a better way to put it– if you put a detail in, IT HAS TO BE IMPORTANT.

            So if you don’t manage to hit that detail on the real trip….that’s a problem. Even if you know that, say, you didn’t have a hotel reservation to make, or there’s no charge if you’re an hour late for lunch, if you put the detail in it matters.

    • I used to do road trips from my home on the Left Coast to visit family in the urban Midwest. These usually had a fixed date to be there, but beyond that, it had few limitations. Did several iterations, taking I-90, I-80, US-60/I-70, with minor side trips. The last two trips, one was unexpected, and it was a) get the flinking air filter for the truck, b) pack, c) go. That one needed the fastest route, and overnight stops depended on how tired I was. Curiously, I stayed at the same places on the return trip.

      The last trip like that had a looser schedule, but I’d planned on the direct route. Weather dictated how far I went each day, and with my dietary restrictions*, places to stay were indicated by places to eat. I ran into rotten weather in Nebraska both ways (apparently, it’s a spring tradition in Nebraska; makes for an exciting trip on I-80), so those legs were 100 miles shorter than planned.

      (*) These restrictions came into play a few years after the first trip. They extract a huge penalty if violated.

      I don’t think I’ll be doing that trip any more. There’s a slim chance, but I wouldn’t be doing it for fun. If so, it’d be more the pack and go option. Sigh.

      The medical road trips west of the Cascades are now so common, it’s one of two set plans. If it’s an appointment that day, I’ll leave early enough to get there, and to the shopping; in which order depending on the appointment time. If it’s an overnight stay for surgery, it’s get there a day early, check into the hotel and kick back. If it’s one of the more involved procedures, there’s probably going to be a few loose ends that will have to be resolved. Still, the planning is pretty close to automatic. I had to improvise once for a planned appointment coinciding with a winter storm warning. That needed a hotel stay, and health issues (pneumonia vaccine reaction) made it more, er, interesting.

  4. “I don’t know if there were humans before story. Maybe at the beginning there were tiny, tiny stories: “Gorg wans to be like Ogg and be leader of band.” Or “If Mog makes basket and catches fish Gorg will notice her, and they’ll have many babies.””

    That sounds like it would be fun to write. Hard though, since a writer would really have to constrain themselves in order to keep modern ideas/phrases from seeping in and distracting the reader.

    • If Mog catches the appropriate fish, will Gorg be leader of the band by playing Bass?

      • Badump-chting! Yes, folks, lets hear it for RCPete, he’s here at the lounge all week. Make sure you tip your waitress. And try the Mammoth steak special plate!

      • Since he’s new at the job he’ll probably flounder a bit, but soon he’ll be able to do an impressive sole-o.

  5. It gets really problematic when you *are* story. Yeah, having stories can have issues. Try _being_ such. (That is NOT an invitation to play* Narrator, thank you.)

    * Profession work exempted, of course. Alright, even amateur.. you know what is meant. Nothing Truly Evil. And yes, I *AM* aware of the Law of Funny.

  6. The story was told when I was young was “You’re lazy”. I didn’t quite entirely believe it, because the story my body told me was “You get tired easily”. The story other people told me was “You just don’t want to work”. The story I started telling myself was “Where did these people get their degree in armchair psychiatry, anyway?” The story my doctors started telling me is “Your heart isn’t functioning normally, the cause is genetic, and we don’t have a good fix for it.” Ah. Now, some people would take that last as a sad story. However, “Bad heart, good brain” is a much, much happier story than “I’m lazy and can’t fix it.”

    • Quite so!

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I wasn’t told that I was lazy, that was a possibility that I could not see my way to disproving empirically. I was told that I had medical issues, and that it was not clear how much they would be impairing my life.

      I’ve confirmed some specific medical issues, identified effective treatments, and am working on increasing productivity.

    • I was told that, re schoolwork. I knew very well that I was not lazy, I was bored out of my mind. I could do all of this stuff in my sleep, and sleep was more interesting with the dreams.

      BTW, I’m trying to recall the idiot who came up with the notion that we don’t have dreams, or don’t remember them, as we age. I had a humdinger the other night that is still with me – I don’t know whether it should be the trailer for the next Avengers movie, or a video game that I really would like to play – but, whee! Flying double-bitted magic axes, god-class people with glowing gold eyes, an eternal war where the common soldiers are reincarnated until one side or the other definitively wins. If I ever figure out how to fit an actual plot to it…

      • Say what?

        I’ve heard people assume that dreams universally are not in color or universally involve not being able to read. Universally not happening/forgotten with age is a new one to me.

        • Well, this last was in color – very colorful, different uniforms on the opposing armies. (Pink elephants last night, which I blame on Sarah for the guest blog a couple of days ago.)
          I’ve had ones where I read, too. Although admittedly I only recall one where what I read made any coherent sense.
          I may have not heard it as a “common” idea, though, but as a psychologist lamenting that his older patients never had any dreams for him to analyze.

          • Terry Sanders

            Friend of mine says he *never* remembers his dreams. Never denied having them, but sounded like “you couldn’t prove it by me.”

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              For a few seconds after I awake, I remember what I was dreaming but later on I know that I had been dreaming but don’t remember what the dream was.

            • My husband has claimed he doesn’t dream, or claimed that he doesn’t remember them, except for the occasional nasty dream he doesn’t want to remember.

              He’s also been diagnosed with sleep apnea and severe sleep deprivation.

          • Ah yes, dream interpretation.
            So what is the inner meaning of, “Never drink ink, drink lettuce” supposed to be?
            And yes, I wake up with some of the oddest things rattling around in my skull.

            • I think that you need a new subconscious. I have been told that the stuff in our writerly veins and arteries is supposed to be at least 50% ink (the remainder being caffeine). What are you supposed to do with lettuce juice in your system?

            • Your subconscious is a juicer?

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Speaker to Lab Animals made the argument that dreams were an artifact of processing memory.

        • many people get sleep apnea with age. Sleep apnea shuts down dreaming. (so do other illnesses. I got shut down from hypothyroidism.)

          • I guess that would do it.

            I must be breathing adequately so far because whoo boy, am I still getting the weird dreams.

            • Makes sense. I recently was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, so I don’t have to use machine, but can use mouth appliances instead. Thanks to HF, my total wake time from before to after hasn’t changed much (about 1/4 hour “better”, sometimes, I use a watch that will track sleep stages) but wow have my dream stages changed, as in double or tripled, deep sleep increased by half, light sleep changes based on the other three.

      • Feather Blade

        I tend to have recurring dreams, until I tell someone what happened in them.

        Which makes it easy to get rid of the nightmares, but impossible to share the really fun ones, especially if i want to find out what happens after the part I’ve already dreamed.

  7. This is the main trouble with political parties; they get caught up in story. Right now the Democrats are the most obvious about it, but I see Libertarians do it too.

    REASON, and otherwise fine magazine, has let itself get caught up in the story that if we open our borders, everything will be rose petals and buttercups.

    Never mind that there are people in the wide world who consider themselves,to be at war with us. Never mind that we have a nearly 2000 mile border with a failed State. And never mind that the citizenry seem to want the borders largely closed, and that in a representative political culture you wither pay attention to what the voters want or they will cram it up your backside.

    REASON’s articles on immigration don’t engage any of these realities, and so they make matters worse.

    • Throwing the gates open has two possibilities:

      Welcome

      Surrender

      These must never be confused.

      • The difference between the two is up to the people outside the gates, once the gates are open… And are we really so foolish as to hope that the rest of the world has best intentions for us? We can see what they’ve already done to their own countries.

        • That, and the Progressive Left Establishment’s desperate and transparent efforts to get this mass of underclass the vote. It tells me that the Progressives are far from sure that their usual ballot box stuffing is going to win them too many more elections.

          Fine by me. They had a century and more,to prove their vision, and failed miserably. Time for somebody else to have a turn.

          • Or they see a final push to tear down the rotten foundation

            • Nah. They’re too frantic for that. They truly are terrified.

              • Hopefully. But I think more trying to repeat Bush’s downfall. And deciding that the insanity of his second term is what’s needed.

                And hopefully he didn’t just gut our immigration law.

                • scott2harrison

                  He didn’t. He gutted the progressives instead. His order is to detain the children with the parents not to let the families go.

                  • Except when the court says that there’s little risk since no record (since fresh over border) so since cant keep kids after 20 days gotta let em all go.

                    • I keep thinking that the best way to deal with this would be to adopt what most of the world does: anyone trying to cross a border except at a legal crossing gets shot at.

                    • Copy Mexico word for word.

              • Let us make their worst nightmares come true…and then let them wake up and realize the reality is even worse for them. 🙂

        • It’s also up to the people inside the gates. “Don’t start none, won’t be none,” and then making it stick usually puts paid to dreams of conquest. Then you can assimilate the ones who just wanted someplace where they could carve out a life for themselves.

          • The cost of “making it stick” is rather nasty, though. Especially for those of us who don’t like going around in packs.

            There’s a reason that borders are popular.

            • Yes, which is one reason why I’m not enamored with the notion that we should allow for unrestricted immigration, and consider our current restrictions to be an unfortunate necessity.

    • Their insistence on “Open Boarders” is one of the major ways I differ from the Libertarian crowds too.

      • Mine, too, but the Libertarian ‘story’ runs into a tad too much ‘most people are nice, but the few bastards are going to screw up your Eden’ for me to buy in. Of course, the same can be said, doubled, in Spades, for the Progressive ‘story’.

        Politically, I’m a Crank. I’m against government intervention in most things simply because I see it being tried all over, and it’s a mess. Furthermore, it’s a BIG mess. If we’re going to have a mess, I would much rather have a lot of little ones.

        If we’re going to have Public Education, let it be controled locally. The last forty years or more have proved (at least to me) that a National Education Policy is a recipe for disaster, and that whatever the problems are with inner city schools, money does not help. So inner city Chicago can’t match the funds lavished by the ‘burbs. Tough. They were better off before that was made an issue.

        Ideally, one would march the Legions into most Public Schools, stick a gladius or a pilum into every other administrator, and tellmthe survivors “you have five years to start turning out kids who can at least read and write. It doesn’t even have to be English, and the first four years we give you a bye. You can do whatever you think will work. But in year five, they can read, or we’ll be back…and we’ll start culling teachers.”

        *sigh*

        Like I,said; a Crank.

      • Timothy Harris

        You can have a Government “safety net”, or you can have relatively open boarders as we did 100 years ago. Open borders under the current policies is a recipe for strife if we’re lucky & invasion if we aren’t.

        • I think that this is the biggest issue with it. If you want a centralized state and a system of government control and welfare (nationalized health care or other services) you have to have a defined state as a State. This means borders. (Conceivably you could have a non-geographically defined state in some sci-fi setting where the centralized control, safety-net, and various “nationalized” services all didn’t have “borders” but it would then have “members” who were obligated to the State and could benefit from it, and “non-members” who were not obligated to nor able to benefit from the State.)

          Without those obligations and benefits, open borders is quite workable. Just go live where you want to live and pay your rent and pay tax when you buy your stuff or the gas to drive on the roads. We’re all good.

          Though a “libertarian”ish society would probably deal very well with “invasion” too. When most of life and decision making is decentralized, where are invaders going to go where they aren’t smack up against people who feel empowered to make decisions and act?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            On a “libertarianish society” handling an invasion, sure the invaders won’t find a “central authority” that could surrender but invaders would just set up a new authority (answering to them” that would shoot anybody who didn’t obey.

            Maybe this new authority “couldn’t kill everybody” but they could kill enough that plenty of people who “go along with” the new authority.

            Of course, there could be plenty of benefits (besides being killed) to obeying the new authority.

            • I was thinking more like “they will go where they have numerical advantages or can otherwise overwhelm what is there, strip it and move on,” but your summary is the more likely long term outcome.

              We’re not use to thinking in terms of needing to avoid invasion…..

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Nod.

                You were thinking in terms of a locust swarm.

                I’m thinking in terms of conquest.

                Either would be nasty.

          • You still run into the problem that even without the government bennies you will drag down standard of living. You take a population used to houses and a first world lifestyle and toss in a quantity of people from what is arguably a failed state and you will have an adjustment period. And since we have only increased the open door for over half a century we have invited other countries to essentially colonize us.

        • Not just the safety net Timothy, we need “civilizational confidence” that can impose Fit in or Fuck Off. Otherwise, it’s still suicide.

    • in many cases, REASON is capital L Libertarian and should be viewed as such.

  8. Wow. Reducing marriage to a mere business transaction would certainly suck any chance for romance or happiness out of it. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like quite a few celebrities marriages, or civil unions.
    . . .
    If you put poison in chocolate, is it still considered poison, or is it now “special flavoring”? Bah, anyone who would deliberately ruin perfectly good chocolate is automatically a criminal.

    I thought the Incredibles 2 was a good movie. Not fantastically, stupendously, hugely, indescribably great; but a good solid movie. I was a bit worried that it might have gone totally SJW on us; but it seems they kept that to an absolute minimum with role reversals for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and their attendant complaints as they discover what their partner’s already knew. I still can’t believe we had to wait 14 years for the next movie.

    • I sort of disagree, at least with the “mere.”

      When C and I got married, we went online and looked at a bunch of marriage vows (not to reinvent the wheel, and besides, someone might have done a better job than we could have). And there were a whole lot of recent vows that amounted to “I promise I will feel so and so.” And in the first place, you can’t promise that, and in the second place, are you saying that if your feelings change, you get out of any practical commitments? And then we found an early Book of Common Prayer, and what it said (setting aside the God stuff, since we’re not religious) was promises to do things, and to stick to those commitments when things got rough. And that was what we were looking for: Marriage as an adult agreement to undertake to do things. I don’t know if it’s “romantic,” but C and I are not less happy, nor do we feel less for each other; if anything, the reverse.

      • Ayup. Peter and I kept the religious parts because we are, but I’d never promise to feel some way for the rest of my life. And the for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, has really come true. Love is a verb you do, and sometimes that includes wound care or doing the dishes when all you want to do is lie down and not move much from the pain. Sometimes it’s having to grit your teeth and say “I don’t give a damn about the thing, but she does, so I’ll take time I really don’t want to, to do something I think is pointless for her happiness.” (And the other way around, too.)

        And that commitment and shared responsibilities have gotten us through some really rough spots, and grown our love all the more.

    • Jane Austen doesn’t reduce it to a business translation. IT’s just eminently practical under “you’ll have a better life married.”

      • She pretty much condemns the strictly “mercenary” marriages. However, I was also struck by the bit in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth asks what the difference is between being mercenary and being prudent. The line between the two is not always obvious.

        • My daughter, as some of you are aware, is an artist and a very good one (very good for an adult–phenomenal for a 14 year old). Her mother has always been rather dismissive of her art wanting her to go into engineering or science or something that will make her lots and lots of money.

          My view has been, instead, to encourage her art but also to encourage her to have a fallback plan–something to do to keep the bills paid and live in reasonable comfort in case she’s not able to make a living doing art.

          The former is, IMO, being “mercenary”. The latter is simply being prudent.

          • Same strategy with my boys, both gifted writers and one a gifted artist. “Get something that will feed your family. Pursue passion on the side. If passion takes off, great.”
            Yeah, prudent.
            Of course all my prudent gambles fail, while the crazy ones succeed.
            I think G-d is amused by me.

          • OMG. Please convince your daughter that her art needs to be fun. Find something else to support herself. It may even have art as part of it. But otherwise her Art become work & often enough someone else starts dictating what is done, or what “sells”. Now the Artist who can sell based on their own interest, that’s rare. Occasionally they’ll get a “request” (‘hey I really like “lions” if you ever paint one, let me have first look’).

            I personally know 6 darn good artists, only two have made a living off their art. One (as in regularly sold prints for a-lot-of-money >$500, & sold originals for huge commissions – don’t remember her first name, worked with her husband). Second one is my mom’s cousin, & she supplemented her art with music lessons & a spouse. Another who has tried to make a living (a cousin), but hasn’t succeeded. My niece prefers to keep her art private. Her mom does large personal pieces & smaller pieces for gifts or favors for family, she’d be happy to be offered money for her art, but doesn’t want to work at selling it. Haven’t seen any yet, but she painted all of another daughters’ thank you cards for gifts for recent wedding. Suspect sis when she retires will be more prolific, but again, not necessarily for profit, more likely to feed the art habit (both because if something sells then it sets off costs, & then is a “business” where the supplies can be written off).

        • No. She also condemns the “for love only” note. Lydia and Whickam, for one.

    • Seeing as how part of what made the first movie so awesome was that it showed a normal, functional family in a crazy situation– rather than a family with Serious Issues in addition to being screwballed by the writers not having a clue– is it really surprising that there are people having trouble figuring out marriage is marriage, not something else?

      • I wonder if these claiming Incredibles 2 presents a case where she should divorce him are out of their freeking minds. This is a strong, healthy, happy family behaving Heroically under stress, and there is No Excuse to break it up.

        • They probably are– mostly because when’s the last time you saw a healthy family in film? THere’s…um…. Mrs Hawkeye? And….

          *draws a blank*

          • I think Dory’s parents in Finding Dory count. Although they were separated from their daughter by circumstances completely outside their control, they never stopped looking for her, and day after day, kept working at the one thing they could think of that might help her find her way home.

            There’s a reason that movie tugs at the heartstrings.

  9. I think everyone has two narratives…one heroic, the other tragic. You want to do Great Deeds? The opportunity is there, but it comes at a price. There’s a truth to the legend of Achilles. (BTDT…with all due humility, I’ve done some pretty impressive things – at a stiff price.)

    • I occasionally wonder what I’d do if Dr. Who showed up. Heroic me wants to jump aboard and go for it, despite how badly that always ends. Everyday me (not sure “tragic” fits) would just look inside and say, “yep, it is bigger on the inside” then walk away – and probably regret it for the rest of my life (I guess that is tragic).

      • Most of the companions ended up OK. The only tragic ends in the classic series were Adric and Romana

        • Romana? She got to avoid going back to Gallifrey, and go gallivanting about the universe while doing good work she heartily supported.

          • Using the TV show as sole source, she was left behind in E-space. I know there were radio plays and such, but I’ve never gotten into them.

        • Terry Sanders

          That’s the *companions.” For everyone else, the collateral damage tend to be beyond epic.

          And when you get involved, you don’t know which you are. See THE LAST UNICORN.

        • Then there was Tegan — abruptly announcing at the end of the adventure that she was sick of it all and running off. That wasn’t a good one.

      • I’ve seen lots of stories and RPGs that start out with that scenario. What strikes me about them is that they’re fantasies for people who have no attachments, or wish they had no attachments. If I were offered passage through such a portal, I would recoil, thinking of being parted from C and not able to provide for her, and of being cut off from my occupation, and of losing all contact with my friends and my intellectual world. If I were dragged through against my will I might be paralyzed with grief and loss for a long time. Now when I was twenty and alienated (more alienated, maybe I should say!), it might have appealed to me. But now? It would be if I went through that I would regret it for the rest of my life.

        • There’s a reason why so many characters in adventures are in their late teens or early twenties. It means you aren’t stuck with either explaining how they evaded acquiring responsibilities at their ages or justifying their dumping their responsibilities. Both of which can be done, but don’t always contribute to the story.

        • On the other hand, you could do a pretty decent story where the Older Heroes have settled down…and now must send the Young Heroes in their stead. A tale of the Burdens of Command.

  10. In my favorite manga series, Otoyomegatari (“Brides’ Stories,” though it’s been translated as “A Bride’s Story”), the principal character is a young woman of around twenty in an arranged marriage with a young man of twelve. The story focuses on her really liking her husband, and wanting to take care of him, and being eager for a consummation that he’s not ready for, and on her relatives planning to dissolve the marriaage and marry her to an older man who has beaten at least one previous wife to death, and on the clash of the two families. . . . And when I read review of it online, I found them saying, repeatedly, that they thought the art was beautiful, but there was no conflict and not much of a story. And I thought, No conflict? WTF?

    So I asked the friend who introduced me to anime. And what she told me was that the assumption was that all arranged marriages were coerced, and all women hated them, and the conflict was the woman’s rejection of her husband and perhaps of marriage as such, and if they didn’t see that conflict they didn’t see any conflict. And wow, I thought, that’s really narrow and unimaginative. “She is a barbarian, and thinks the customs of her tribe and island are the laws of nature,” eh?

    • Feather Blade

      I love that series.

      But yes, comments on the scanlation site were… a dumpster fire of feminist bleating about the usual.

      • Yeah, it’s funny how people who believe so strongly in multiculturalism are unable to read a story set in a different culture in terms other than those of early 21st century identity feminism, isn’t it?

        I think there’s more multiculturalism in the works of Rudyard Kipling than there is in an entire university faculty of humanities and social sciences.

        • Well according to what I’ve been hearing, history is racist and sexist and must be improved upon, so why not view everything through the lens of feminist identity politics?

    • It’s intriguing to read the histories of various families that made it into history (not the ones surnamed “the Great” but the next tier down) and see how many arranged marriages seem to have been relatively happy and how much one partner missed the other when he or she died. Was it “love, true love” or “deep respect and admiration and gratitude?” Did it matter in that day and age?

      • (Tevye)
        But do you love me?
        (Golde)
        Do I love him?
        For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
        Fought him, starved with him
        Twenty-five years my bed is his
        If that’s not love, what is?
        (Tevye)
        Then you love me?
        (Golde)
        I suppose I do
        (Tevye)
        And I suppose I love you too

        • A visitor from India was interviewed for the newspaper here several years ago. He commented, “in America, you’re supposed to fall in love with your partner and then get married. In India, you’re supposed to get married and then fall in love with your partner. As far as I can tell, it works out about the same, either way.”

        • I loved that scene, and the cheeky way that Tevye presses for the admission that Golde loves him. It was cute and sweet.

      • Yup. I had a Renaissance History course that touched on this. Arranged marriages usually worked better than we would think. But it helped that both sides were willing to work at it, and expected to do so.

        • Had a book on the shelves – something about sex and marriage in the 18th century in England that was basically … the elders in the families screened and worked out potentially good matches, put the two kids in proximity, and if they were compatible (that is, didn’t run screaming, or try and scratch each others’ eyes out) and agreeable to being told, ‘Hey, kids, a marriage has been arranged’ … then a marriage was arranged. If the kids did not find the potential partner agreeable, then the elders usually did not force the issue. And moved on to the next potential candidate.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            IIRC There was also cases where several families with marriageable children would have major “get-togethers” where the children would met and be able to socialize.

            If any of the children naturally paired up, then the families would “arrange” that the children would marry.

            In other cases, it would work as you mentioned. IE The families would decide which of the children wouldn’t make their children “run away screaming” and see if they could “arrange” the children’s marriage.

            • Michael Chevalier, was a French engineer who visited America circa 1833. After observing that the American are the most money-obsessed people he has ever met, he goes on to say:

              “I ought to do the Americans justice on another point. I have said that with them everything was an affair of money; yet there is one thing which among us, a people of lively affections, prone to love and generous by nature, takes the mercantile character very decidedly and which among them has nothing of this character; I mean marriage. We buy a woman with our fortune or we sell ourselves to her for her dowry. The American chooses her, or rather offers himself to her, for her beauty, her intelligence, or her amiable qualities and asks no other portion. Thus, while we make a traffic of what is most sacred, these shopkeepers exhibit a delicacy and loftiness of feeling which would have done honor to the most perfect models of chivalry.”

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                The thing about the obsession with money, industry, efficiency, and productivity is that it gets results, if your goal includes supporting yourself. We have the luxury to afford to make the match on more important grounds than mere inherited wealth.

                • Terry Sanders

                  “His Lordship married for love.”

                  “Well, I dessay he can afford it.”

                  BUSMAN’S HONEYMOON
                  Dorothy Sayers

          • Yup. Nobody wanted to shove their kids into a bad marriage. Even royalty…and royal marriages were very much political. Which was why kings kept mistresses.

          • So basically “humans not being idiots.”

        • That, and how many fathers are willing to marry their daughters off to an abusive jerk just because his family has wealth/land/etc.? Why not marry her off to a decent fellow whose family has wealth/land/etc.? (Besides, chances are that the former will renege on any obligations owed anyway.)

      • For that matter, the very fact it was not a love match is a great expectation-lower. If you do not expect your spouse to make you perfectly happy forever, why, then you won’t. get your hopes dashed.

      • What I’ve heard repeatedly over the years is that if a man and a woman really want to build and develop a romantic relationship, then most of the time they can. There are some couples that will never manage to get along for one reason or another. But the vast majority of people could develop such a relationship if they were sufficiently motivated to try and make it work.

    • A recent chapter has Amir explain WHY she never minded their age difference; Karluk’s being so much younger – and unable to fulfil the obligations of husband, such as protecting her and fighting to keep her safe, as well as awareness of her patience (regarding physical consummation of their marriage; it’s not outright said but implied) is a source of personal conflict with him.

      I really love the story, and the different expressions of love and care that Mori portrays – a fair number of expressions being very nonsexual, which is a breath of fresh air in a time where people seem to think sex is the only way to express love – or that romantic love is the only expression of love.

      The other spouse that made a big impression on me is the Persian rich man; he’s rather ridiculously in love with and concerned about his wife (again, somewhat unusual for the era and culture) and will do anything for her happiness. He worries that even though he takes a second wife (at her insistence, not because he wants one; in fact he raises all the objections and points out that she’s asking him to take a second wife and all that it implies) his beloved first wife Anis would have jealousy issues with Shirin (the second wife.) And it’s shown that Shirin herself was in a happy marriage with her first husband, and that they adored each other. Anis’ and Shirin’s relationship is a form of love that isn’t romantic or sexual, but if they were modern day women, they’d be pushed into the box of ‘lesbian relationship.’ Which, honestly, is tiresome.

  11. I’ll add something I think, but can’t quite prove – that men and women used to have more appreciation for the burdens of the other sex. I believe men still do, but the feminists have completely lost the bubble.

    • And women are taking on more of what was “men’s work”—-working outside the home, joining the military, politics—-nasty, dangerous jobs.

    • Mature men and women still do– the male version of the feminist twits are equally clueless about.

      It requires empathy– the real stuff, not the “I feel your pain, you’re exactly like me, really” junk.

  12. Ideologies would, in this context, be pre-formed stories, one-size-fits-all, for people who don’t like their current story to pick up and try on… never realizing that they’re a rigid story that resists growth or change, or editing?

    “I’m a vegan!” Says the woman, within five minutes of meeting me. Okay, fine, ma’am, but we were talking about something unrelated to dietary choices. And now you’re going to have to make everything a reflection of your veganism, whether it makes sense or not… And when you start fretting over whether breastfeeding is appropriate, because it’s not vegan, you don’t understand why everyone else around you has decided you’ve departed reality for cloud cuckoo land.

    Some folks are really surprised, after knowing me a while, to learn that I’m not straight. They’ve met too many people who think that their sexuality is a rigid ideology, and they have to present their tribal credentials up front, and filter everything through the “approved” ideology. Those who know I’m not straight have a hard time reconciling that I’m Christian, and support the second amendment… and this is how you end up with Seattle Pride declaring the Pink Pistols can’t can’t have a float in the “pride” parade.

    *facepalm*

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      People are complicated. I wish people would remember that.

      • I wish people would *allow* that.

        (And of course for those of you looking for horror… everyone believing all the proper things in the proper way is forced simplification, not *complicated*, no matter the stories you tell yourself.)

    • Those sorts of people would be horrified to find out that there are people in the Philippines, who are homosexual, but get married to a friend of the opposite sex – also homosexual – because they want children and their religious beliefs are more important to them than their getting their way. (If they have ‘someone on the side’ that’s up to the couples, really.)

      Or the homosexuals who don’t marry because they are religious, and instead focus on being good people, and are good role models to say, their students, or their nieces and nephews, or adopt, and are careful to keep ‘their homo life’ separate from ‘normal life.’ (One of the reasons I’ve heard is because the former sometimes tends to be full of drama and intrigues, and they don’t think that’s nice to expose the children to.)

      I really hate the weird concept that just because someone is homosexual, by default they HAVE to be open to every rebellious idea and every perversion out there.

      • Well, in fairness, from what I’ve heard there are quite a few homosexuals that are horrified by the idea that by default they have to be open to every rebellious idea and perversion out there. Those are the same ones who look at the Pride celebrations, and then quip that they understand why the straights hate gays.

        • Hon, those homosexuals don’t exist. Any more than the ones who prioritize something else other than their homosexuality exist. They’re fake, and not real, that’s what we’re told, right?

          (I’m being facetious/joking/sarcastic/tongue in cheek)

          Just goes to show that the people pushing identity politics really, really don’t get that people will not be widgets and interchangeable and… individual.

          • I tend to explain, only half jokingly, that I used to be a lesbian until I went to college and lesbians put me off women for good. The lifestyle and I don’t know, need for constant affirmation and endorsement rather than acceptance, that seemed to come with homosexuality wasn’t for me. I dabbled in that sort of drama and it nearly drove me insane. To live that way was more than I could handle.

        • kenashimame

          Had a gay “co-worker” (we were both in the theater department at the local community college) who had a crush on me for a while. One of his tag lines was “I hate fags.

          He was also the one who taught me how to use “white liberal guilt” as a pejorative.

      • It goes back to the idea that your sexual identity defines all the rest of your identity, interests, hobbies, faith, and even favorite kind of pizza. Or your being black, or Latina/o/x, or American Indian, or having two x chromosomes. “They” have decided that all men with homosexual desires have to camp and swish and be into Pride and dress in certain ways and have fabulously perfect senses of interior decoration and have social lives that would exhaust a 19th Century French courtesan. [Deity] forefend that someone should be interested in firearms and hunting, have an amazing HO-scale model train set up that devoured his entire living room, prefer sensible clothes for his job, sing bass in a church choir, and treat his sexual desires as a very minor part of his overall life!

        • As a side note, I wonder sometimes how the actual speakers of the Latin languages feel about this “Latinx” business. Are they (or at least the top progressives among them) eager to embrace this new suffix so that their language can be sufficiently inclusive of the genderfluid? Or do they look at the whole thing and say, “WTF is wrong with you people? We’ve always used the masculine suffix for indeterminate gender. Why are you hellbent on making our language unpronouncable?”

      • Oh, they are horrified as a maiden aunt at a bikini party by the US/European groups that do that– COURAGE doesn’t publicize it much, but from the security steps they try to be sneaky about, they get a lot of physical expressions of that horror aimed at them and their members.

  13. Sort of apropos of the topic: on the flight back from Overseas, I watched one of the DC comics movies that someone else was watching and listening to. 1) It was dark – sepia tones, dark locations, dark-colored costumes. 2) No one smiled – none of the good guys or bad guys. 3) I couldn’t follow the plot, which is pretty dang lousy for a comic book movie. Just the color palate alone screamed “Not a Marvel comics film!!”

    I can see why DC isn’t doing as well as Marvel. And Really, Wonder Woman? Why not just use your super-speed to stop the gunman instead of deflecting his bullets?

    • The same reason the non-superspeed Doomsday ever lands a punch on Superman (who should be able to dodge handily out of the way).

      The writers didn’t think of it.

      • Nope – they had a design meeting and whoever was doing the art had this great sketch of Ubermensch taking the punch, full page and almost 3D coming out of the paper, so they put it in. The skill available with the writers at the time determined how they managed to get to that page – handwavium or something clever, it didn’t matter, they had the big piece of art and went with it.

        • Yeah, “person making the story has no clue of the existing canon” is pretty solidly the issue in a LOT of comic books.

        • Fair enough. But after Superman realized Doomsday was strong enough to actually hurt him, that should have been it.

          Superspeed to dodge any attacks, then an hyperspeed uppercut to give him escape velocity. It doesn’t matter how tough and unkillable the guy is – if he doesn’t have innate flight, he’s not going to be a threat if you knock him outsystem.

    • Is WW actually faster enough than bullets to just walk around them and stop the gunman, though?

      Not that I paid all that much attention, just watched the TV show mostly. I just assumed that a bullet could hit her.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        At times the comic book writers have shown her almost as fast as Flash but the writers have never had her “run fast enough” to dodge bullets.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Of course, it takes an extremely fast person to react fast enough to use her bracelets to stop bullets. 😀

      • There was a comic – I don’t know if it was a parody – where Superman asks Diana why she uses her bracelets to deflect, when she’s just as bullet proof as he is. She doesn’t say anything, she just stops deflecting with the bracelets and stands there with fists on hips, as the bullets make her breasts jiggle and the bad guys start laughing. There’s a beat panel where Supes and Wondy look at each other. The next one, she’s back to deflecting bullets with the bracelet, and Superman just says “Understood.”

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Not Canon.

          Just a joke. 😉

        • Terry Sanders

          There was a comic a decade or so ago that said her invulnerability is not total. She’s incredibly tough, but not…armored. Crushing blows are one thing, knives and bullets are another. Like Kevlar protecting from bullets but much less from knives, because an edge attacks individual threads.

          Like the new Superboy, in one of his earlier and more sensible versions, ignored bullets, knives, heat, etc.; but was vulnerable to electricity–because his invulnerability was based on his telekinesis. He could stop weapons, or hold his molecules in place despite the heat (or something); but a shock wasn’t “physical” enough.

          • It really depends on the writer/era. The one where I was reading, she was pretty much on par with Superman and could go toe to toe with him.

            She could get really hurt with other supernatural beings though (Circe, etc.)

            • Terry Sanders

              Oh, yes. Power Escalation is a constant problem.

              In this story, they basically said that a fist–even Superman’s fist was one thing. A knife was another. As I said, crushing blows versus penetrating damage. It was specifically a way to handwave her being that tough but still having to play bullets and bracelets.

  14. My favorite story growing up was “Puss in Boots.” I was the one looking for my fortune. My narrative made a drastic change after I ended up in the hospital and there was another change after my husband died. I’m not sure what my narrative is now. Although I seem to write a lot of stories of women who come through a drastic change and land on their feet.

  15. I know it’s just a typo, but now I’m wondering what the effect of open boarders would be on the society.

  16. Talking to me directly twice in one day is spooky. Time to bite the bullet and pay for a paper copy of the Quantum Computing pdf I have and actually do the homework required to get through it.

    New narrative: I CAN do multidimensional matrix algebra!
    Although, I’m still going to whine about how difficult it is to get math stuff into word processors.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      If you are having trouble with matrix algebra, the area to look at to brush up your fundamentals is linear algebra.

      Word these days doesn’t seem to bad to get equations into if you are familiar with LaTeX. Alt =, type it in, right click, pick the professional display option. Boom. LibreOffice Writer seems to be able to open the equations fine, I haven’t tried to input them in it lately. RStudio accepts LaTeX, and LyX is a rather nice program that can save trouble when learning LaTeX. For matrices, I’ve especially had good luck with Lyx.

      Unless by multidimensional matrices you mean tensors of rank 3 or greater?

  17. Anybody know of a good site to get rid of constant pessimism?

  18. The story I am writing is taking a very interesting, and dark turn.

    The sort of dark turn where the bodies are solid across the floor.

    But, my muse is standing there, her hand outstretched and saying, “Follow me. I trust you to tell the story, please trust me that when we reach the end, it will be worth it.”

  19. …the narrative you choose makes the life you live makes the narrative you choose makes the…
    Chicken or the egg in spades. Thanx for the post, Sarah!